That place where marijuana & real estate meet

Marijuana is on my mind. In recent weeks Californians voted to make recreational marijuana legal, and I can’t help but consider the impact it might have on real estate. Here are a few things I’ve been mulling over. Anything you’d add?

44200664 - cannabis leaves on old wooden background

1) Land Value: All of a sudden land that is ripe for marijuana growing is looking pretty attractive. I’m not talking about tiny postage stamp lots in subdivisions, but rather larger-sized parcels in outlying areas. The truth is many savvy land buyers have already been making their move on large parcels in surrounding areas to Sacramento, but there are going to be more opportunities out there. I saw one listing recently where an agent said, “Good for ‘income-producing crops'” (code for pot). For further reference, here is an article discussing a “green rush” in Yolo County (people setting up marijuana businesses). 

2) Home Experimentation: I expect to see more owners and renters trying to grow their own weed at home. Some will grow a few plants, but others will aim to start a business to make some money in an economy that still isn’t all that vibrant.

3) Commercial Vacancies & Rents: If California ends up being anything like Denver, which has nearly 4 million square feet of commercial space used for cannabis production, I’m guessing we’ll see more interest in industrial properties and higher rents in certain areas. Goodbye commercial vacancies. Here is an image from The Sacramento Bee to show all the locations where pot can be grown in Sacramento. Image created by Nathaniel Levine.


4) Disclosures: Talking about marijuana in contracts, listings, and appraisals isn’t anything new in real estate, but my sense is if it becomes more common to see pot growing in homes, we’ll need to hone our skills and consider what disclosure needs to look like. By the way, could the smell of a nearby pot farm need to be disclosed? As an appraiser I’m concerned with the condition of the house. There is obviously a huge difference between a massive grow operation with hundreds or thousands of plants and a home owner with a few plants. What I’m going to be looking for is anything that might make an impact on value or a health and safety issue – exposed wiring, over loaded plug-ins, poor ventilation, mold, etc… I’m not there to nark or judge by any stretch, but only figure out the value (and discuss and photograph anything that impacts value).


5) Advertising: I took my family to Portland last week to enjoy Thanksgiving, and it was amazing to see how much advertising there was for pot (because it’s legal there). Everywhere I turned Downtown there was another weed billboard, A-frame sign, or a green cross (the symbol of a dispensary). Please don’t think I’m dissing Portland because I love the city and can’t wait to go back. I’m just saying we might expect to see the same thing in California when it comes to advertising. Can signs impact the feel of a city or neighborhood? Will there be more signs in certain areas than others? Time will tell.

6) Marijuana Branding: I’m waiting for more in the real estate community to go public with their MJ branding. Last month a Sacramento law firm announced its marijuana practice. Ironically one of the partners has the last name Kronick, which is oh so close to Chronic. Anyway, there is still available shelf space for weed branding such as “Marijuana Realtor”, “Cheebah Appraiser”, and “Mary Jane Lender.” I’m kidding. Sort of.

7) Loans on “Grow” Properties: Some lenders don’t want to lend on properties that are being used for marijuana growth (keep in mind this likely doesn’t mean just a few plants). Here is some direction from a certain bank I sometimes work for when it comes to this issue. This unnamed bank sent out a message to its appraisers regarding grow houses:

####### Bank is currently unable to lend on any property with marijuana grow operations. The marijuana industry is state regulated and ####### Bank is federally regulated. Therefore, we are not in a position to lend to borrowers with income from that source nor can we lend on properties with active marijuana grow rooms or facilities. 

If you encounter a property with an active marijuana grow operation, please take at least one descriptive photo, complete your inspection of the property then cease work on the file and immediately contact your ####### Bank Appraisal Coordinator. Please do not attempt to quote ####### Bank lending policy. We will take care of that and you will, of course, be compensated for the time you’ve already invested in the appraisal.

I hope that was interesting or helpful.

Questions: Anything to add? Did I miss something? What impact do you think the legalization of marijuana might have on real estate? If you are located in a state where marijuana has been legal, what advice do you have for Sacramento? I’d love to hear your take.

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The hot housing market and cold vacant land

The real estate market has been really hot in Sacramento, but not for all types of property. The residential market has been “on fire” so to speak, but I wouldn’t characterize vacant land in the same way. While land is still a hot commodity in more established neighborhoods with higher property values (vacant land is often scarce in these areas), it’s really selling for “dirt cheap” in other neighborhoods that have far lower property values. Moreover, the land market is not struggling with an extraordinarily low level of inventory like the single family market right now.

All Residential Land Sales in 95815 and 95838 Zip Code - Trend Graph by Sacramento Appraisal Blog - 530 pixels

As an example, let’s look at all vacant residential land sales in the 95815 and 95838 zip codes of Sacramento under 0.50 acres. I’m appraising a lot in North Sacramento right now, so researching both of these zip codes is definitely relevant.

All land sales in 95815 and 95838 zip code - trend graph by Sacramento Appraisal Blog - 530 pixels

It’s incredible to see how the market has changed through the years and how lots are often selling for less than $15,000 right now. Some of these sites are even improved with utilities and ready for construction, but they’ve been vacant for years since it hasn’t been as profitable to build. In fact, a 6-acre parcel slotted for subdivision development recently sold for $150,000 after having sold for $965,000 in 2006. This is why I recommend for land owners to pay very careful attention to their property taxes to ensure they’re not overpaying. If you need help putting together research for an appeal, let me know.

Land Listings in Sacramento Zip Code 95815 and 95838 Zip Code - Graph by Sacramento Appraisal Blog

Many current listings are priced higher than recent sales. Out of 20 listings above, only one is “pending”. It’s important of course to realize some land is not listed on MLS, but rather sites like LoopNet or CoStar.

Questions: What has been your experience with buying or selling land in the Sacramento area? Anything you’d like to add to the conversation? Do you think now is a good time to buy?

If you have any questions or Sacramento home appraisal or property tax appeal needs, let’s connect by phone 916-595-3735, email, Twitter, subscribe to posts by email (or RSS) or “like” my page on Facebook

How I helped my client save $20,000 in property taxes this year

I got some great news recently that the Assessor’s Office in Sacramento County agreed to lower property taxes by roughly 1.5 million on some acreage that one of my clients owns. The detailed appeal I put together for his 2009 property taxes revealed a total value of $340,000, but the Assessor had this parcel assessed at $1,804,053 (just a little bit of a difference, right?). I’m so glad the Assessor agreed with my research. The tax savings for my client is almost $20,000 for the year. 

NOTE: In case you were wondering, there was previously a tear-down structure on the property valued at $53,060 by the Assessor. This structure was removed a couple years ago, so that’s why there is currently no value for it.  

If you have any questions or a need for an appraisal or property tax consulting in the Sacramento area, give me a call at 916.595.3735, send me an email, or catch me on Facebook.